Journey of 25 Years
Nilam Patel Bahushrut Foundation was founded on
2nd November 1993
Nilam Patel Bahushrut Foundation is an outcome of a thought which came as a flash to the founder Nilam Patel on a Thursday, on way to Saibaba temple, just a few days before her 50th birthday. She thought “Why not start an educational trust for the Hearing Impaired children since I have always believed in inclusive education and have mainstreamed hundreds of children in regular schools? My belief can be reinforced by awarding scholarships to encourage these students for higher education.”
This thought just clicked and her mind started racing. She contacted persons she wanted to take as the trustees and they readily agreed to join her. Within a short span of about eight to ten days, Nilam Patel Bahushrut Foundation was founded on 2nd November 1993, exactly on her 50th birthday. A trust deed with objectives towards welfare of the hearing impaired was prepared by a solicitor. In those days registering an NGO did not take so long. In a single day, on 2nd November 1993, the trust deed was signed at the solicitor’s office which was then registered at Charity Commissioner’s office and the bank account was opened in name of the foundation. Today it takes more than a year to do this. Other formalities and paper work, mandatory for a trust, followed.
“For us also this was a new experience. To fulfill our objectives, we needed funds. When we started approaching people to raise funds, they did not take the trust or us seriously. They thought this to be just a whim of an individual. They thought it would not be possible for a new NGO to extend services to the whole of Maharashtra”. says Nilam Patel. In the beginning it was very difficult to manage. The trustees did all the work themselves. Though there was no money coming in, the founder was determined to make the trust work. She continued to finance the trust with her own money for few years.
In 1995, for the first time, we held a public function, to felicitate the hearing impaired students and awarded them with the scholarships and prizes. All the people involved in the field attended the function. That was the time when people realized that we were serious about our intentions. After that there was no looking back.
We also started ‘Matrimonial Bureau for the deaf’. It was an information providing service for eligible young hearing impaired men and women to find a suitable partner. People from all over India and some also from abroad had registered. These services though, had to be discontinued in 2006 when Nilam Patel shifted to Vadodara.
Over the years, we learnt a lot in terms of reaching out to more and more students who could benefit through scholarships. Since donations were not forthcoming, we were always short of funds. We had to rely on media to spread the word through our press releases and parents, teachers and professionals in the field to spread the word by mouth. Sometimes the response was poor but we did not give up. Slowly people started having faith and confidence in us.
In fact, now we sometimes receive application forms even before the date of announcement, as forms are available on the website. It fills our hearts when hearing impaired students from very small and remote villages of Maharashtra also become the beneficiaries of scholarships especially when they belong to BPL families. Thanks to newspapers in regional languages, who publish our press release.
As funds grew, we introduced several awards for academic excellence. Last year we introduced “Study Abroad Scholarships”. One student from Bombay, was the beneficiary of this award for year 2017, who has gone to Rochester University, Rochester, New York, USA, to pursue Master’s degree in Computer Science.
Since its inception up to 2018, 658 scholarships have been distributed in addition to several prizes and awards. Some of our scholars have benefitted repeatedly at each level, as they progressed in their academic endeavour. Many of them have become engineers or professionals and have settled well in their careers”.